5 Neurosculpting Practices for Lasting Brain Change

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April 8, 2019

How many times do you beat yourself up for repeating the same limiting or self-sabotage patterns even though you “know better”? You might find yourself reaching for the next self-help book or seminar which often reiterates all the ways you “know better.” Back to square one!

Part of the problem is that knowing better often has little power to actually create real and lasting brain change. Science supports the idea that our unconscious and subconscious processes account for far more of our behavior drivers than conscious thought processes. So if our behaviors and patterns are dictated more from subconscious patterns than conscious ones, it really does little good to “know better.” Instead, for lasting brain change we have to “do better.”

Self-directed neuroplasticity, and practices like Neurosculpting, are some of the keys to influencing our thought patterns, breaking old ones, and establishing new ones. The great news is we can use some simple practices to begin winning over the brain and body, priming it to be more predisposed to self-directed change. Incorporating these five best practices can open the doors to a more graceful, resilient, and lasting experience of change.

1. Gratitude

Having a gratitude practice has been neurologically and biologically proven to have a profound effect on the body and mind. When the mind and body reach these states we feel less apprehensive about change and more open to new possibilities and uncertainty. UC Berkeley reports that practicing gratitude can lead to:

  • A strong immune system
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Joy
  • Forgiveness
  • Ease of chronic pain
  • Compassion
  • Social involvement

A simple gratitude practice can be five minutes in the shower making a list of the things in your day that support your comfort and safety. These might be appreciating the warm water, noticing you have shelter, or remembering you had a soft bed to sleep in. When you focus on the simple yet plausible things that support your comfort and safety, gratitude begins to cultivate naturally.

2. Brain Nutrition

Nourishing ourselves with foods high in Omega-3s and healthy fats is one of the best ways to support a healthy brain and a quality meditation practice in which to shift your patterns. Our body uses Omega-3s and healthy fats to build grey matter in our brain. In addition to brain nutrition, hydration is essential to healthy cognitive function, concentration, attention, memory and self-directed neuroplasticity.  

A simple practice to begin priming you for brain resilience and change is to put your food on a plate, eat it at a table, and make sure you have a healthy fat, protein, and source of quality slow carbohydrates like vegetables.

3. Daily Shaking Practice

When we experience a stress response, stress hormones (including adrenaline) move into the bloodstream and muscles contract and tighten. These physical changes occur in order for the body to engage in a fight-or-flight response for protection. When the body is in this state we are at our most resistant to change.

In most of the stressors that we typically face in our daily lives, however, we do not hit or run our way out of the situation, and the contracted physical state remains for extended amounts of time unnecessarily. This ultimately creates a potential for long-term physical maladies, including chronic pain and illness, and a mental rigidity that sabotages change.

One of the best ways to release tension, stress, or contraction—and prime the brain for lasting change—is to quite literally shake it off!

Consider what a rabbit, or any mammal, does after it has been chased by a predator and is now safe: it likely hides under a bush or object and shakes until the adrenaline has dispelled and the muscles can relax. You may have experienced your body attempting to use this technique naturally and perhaps have even tried to resist or control involuntary shaking.

We can utilize this natural biological strategy to release muscle tension and alleviate stress hormone buildup in the body. Consider finding a private space and informing people that you will be shaking so they know there is no medical emergency. Having a daily shaking practice releases unused and un-useful tension and contraction, allowing for alleviation and relaxation.

Feel free to shake violently and to even develop a daily shaking practice—as many others have!

4. Tapping with Non-Dominant Hand

This is one of our favorite Neurosculpting tricks! When you are in a meditation and find yourself in a moment that you would like to access easily later or anchor in now, you can tap a part of your body with your non-dominant hand. Creating a physical sensation in connection with a particular experience creates an association. This physical association makes the experience more easily accessible later.

Tapping can be used to retrieve the memory during another meditation, and even throughout the day. While it may not be as in-depth as a full meditation, tapping in the same place on your body with your non-dominant hand will bring the experience to mind. Imagine trying to establish a new pattern yet never having real-time moments to remind your subconscious mind of it. That new pattern will simply begin to fade away.

With this simple tip you can give gentle reinforcement to your new pattern while standing in line at the grocery store, driving in your commute, cooking, or showering. You can tap with your non-dominant hand in most moments and access the experience on a conscious or subconscious level.

5. Daily Novelty Exercises

Pique your brain’s interest with novel activities every time it crosses your mind. You can use imaginative yet non-threatening, simple exercises throughout the day to engage your brain. Ideas that are interesting, but not unnerving, can excite brain activity without a stressor and bring it into a heightened state of focus and receptivity to adaptation. This supports your brain’s capacity for pattern changes, problem-solving, goal-setting, and approaching your day with relaxed yet focused attention. Be creative and keep it simple.

Here is a list of novel and silly ideas to engage healthy activity in your brain throughout the day:

  • Brush your teeth or hair with your non-dominant hand
  • 
Get dressed out of order (opposite shoe first, shirt before pants)
  • Reverse or rearrange your morning routine
  • 
Imagine or envision a completely new shape or color
  • 
Imagine what the world would look like if you walked on your hands

These simple practices each day gently engage our ability to down-regulate our rigidity and up-regulate our predisposition to adaptation so that when we focus on making changes the brain is as receptive and focused as possible. Lasting brain change is not about what you know, it’s about what you do.


Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute. She holds a master’s degree in education, a certificate in the Foundations of NeuroLeadership, and certificates in medical neuroscience, visual perception, the brain, and neurobiology. She is the author of New Beliefs, New Brain: Free Yourself from Stress and Fear, and Neurosculpting: A Whole-Brain Approach to Heal Trauma, Rewrite Limiting Beliefs, and Find Wholeness. As the founder of the Neurosculpting modality, Lisa runs a private meditation practice in Colorado, teaching clients who suffer from stress disorders. She is a faculty member of Kripalu Yoga and Meditation Center, the Law Enforcement Survival Institute, Omega Institute, and 1440 Multiversity.


Join Lisa Wimberger & 25 Leading Experts in the Fields of Neuroscience and Functional Medicine in the Brain Change Summit!

Lisa Wimberger

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Lisa Wimberger is the founder of the Neurosculpting Institute and author of New Beliefs, New Brain. A member of the National Center for Crisis Management and other care associations, she has a private practice in Denver, CO, specializing in helping clients with stress disorders. For more, visit neurosculptinginstitute.com.

Also By Author

5 Neurosculpting Practices for Lasting Brain Change

Incorporating these five best neuroplasticity practices can open the doors to a more graceful, resilient, and lasting experience of change.

Neurosculpting

Founder of the Neurosculpting® Institute Lisa Wimberger speaks with Tami Simon about how people can change their ingrained beliefs and conditioned behaviors using her revolutionary method. Neurosculpting takes a whole-brained approach to changing the way we deal with stress. Lisa relates how to “set up our brains for change” by calming our fight, flight, and freeze response, and guides us through a Neurosculpting session so we can see how we might respond in a new way to a stressful situation. (66 minutes)

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At a time when we’re marinating in trauma and dealing with the test of a lifetime, we all wish things were different. When what we want from life is a million mile march from what it actually is, it can seem like we need a massive intervention to keep facing what’s at hand. 

But research shows that small things can make a big difference. Just like stress is cumulative, so are the daily steps we take to grow and give.

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BE LOVE. 

Loneliness is being called “the new smoking,” a modern health risk. For some, the global pandemic has strengthened relationships, allowing for bonding and teamwork like never before. For others, it’s wreaked havoc: leading to feeling smothered and stuck. For those living alone, distancing has been brutal, making love feel far from reach. Loss, whether through death, divorce, breakups, or other factors, singes our hearts. We can become avoidant and skeptical of our future potential to love and be loved. 

When we strive to embody love, it’s essential to keep an open mind and heart. Loving connections are protective factors to our well-being. Consider these microdoses of bravery to strengthen your relationships, your sense of belonging, and the co-creation of new love paradigms in your life:

  • Get real. Go through your friends on social media and make a list of all the real people in your life with whom you can be yourself. Make a conscious effort to spend time outside of social media. Thank them for being so real to you and vow you’ll do the same.
  • Spark connection. Initiate a conversation with a partner or friend to see if you can build greater intimacy or camaraderie. To improve your connection, ask them what would mean a lot to them, and offer your own thoughts too.
  • Seek affinity relationships. Write a short poem or essay about yourself to clarify your various identities and then seek an affinity connection. Invite that person for coffee. Don’t shy away from sharing yourself and nudging them to do the same.
  • Be innovative. Create your own bravery microdose to help you be love.

Take note:

Write down what you chose to do and reflect on how it cultivated love in your life. Consider sharing this with someone you trust to help you maximize your efforts.

BE HEALING. 

The level of trauma at hand has ravaged our lives, making healing feel elusive on a good day, impossible on a bad. Given the magnitude of suffering at hand, healing should not be trivialized as a three-step process. Healing requires enormous courage. Microdosing bravery can help us reach out and tap in to the many forms of restoration available to us.  

Understanding how resilience works is a helpful way to begin healing. Gone are the days when it was viewed as a character trait—something you’re born with or not. There’s a lot of hype about being gritty and never letting anyone see you sweat that gets in the way of us finding the right support. Here are some ways to microdose bravery to foster healing and build resilience:

  • Recognize you’re not alone. The biggest lie our difficulties tell us is that we’re the only ones dealing with such intense suffering. All of us are living in a global mental health crisis, with exorbitant pressures and crushing circumstances. Suffering is part of our shared humanity. Finding solidarity and safe community can serve as a catalyst to healing. As we get traction in our own healing process, our acts of courage can be nourishing and healing to those around us.
  • Self-advocate. Healing requires intentional change in our communication. Many of us are comfortable and willing to give help, but few are asking for it. Identify one trusted person in your life that you know has the emotional maturity and skills to listen and support you. Tell them what you’re going through and work with them to identify potential roads toward healing, such as therapy, strategic behavioral change, and targeted self-care.
  • Set boundaries. Untreated trauma and unresolved issues can haunt us and impair the quality of our lives. By paying attention to what we say yes and no to, we can ensure we are leaving space for growth after we’ve gone through significant stressors. Find language to courageously share what you can commit to, and what you cannot. Enlist support to help you firmly protect your time so that you can devote attention to healing and restoration.
  • Identify resources. Take some time to scan your direct environment for things that nurture and sustain you. Select one or two things that can be microdosed to build your bravery.

Take note:

Write down things that help you experience healing. How can you continue to build off this?

BE A LIBERATOR. 

Society can project a lot onto us, caging us into patterns of conformity that can become harmful. Freedom to live as our truest selves isn’t something that comes with safety or ease. The work of unhooking from social prescriptions and ills can be fraught and exhausting. Still, when we find the courage to call out injustice and fight for a more humane world, we can experience exuberance and help change paradigms.

When we strive to liberate, we realize that we must dismantle oppression. That we must advocate for inclusivity and human reverence, particularly for social identities that are marginalized and harmed. Constrained living hinders human progress, individually and collectively. Consider these microdoses of bravery to liberate from social constructs that are harmful:

  • Let go. Take inventory of so-called social “norms” and become less apt to cower in the face of social impositions that are dismissive and destructive toward “difference.” Embrace your own multidimensionality, and that of humanity.
  • Speak up. We all have opportunities to be active contributors rather than passive bystanders in the world. Practicing accountability means that we call out injustice and work to eradicate forms of human suffering and imprisonment—whether based on race, gender, orientation, age, place of origin, or other social identity categories.
  • Practice human reverence. Move from me to we. See the glory and wonder across the human spectrum. Honor varied identities and perspectives. Work to find and engage in diverse relationships, rather than staying insular or spending time with those that look like, love like, and think like you. Become a liberator by standing fervently with those who’ve been marginalized, oppressed, or discriminated against. Seek ways to forge change, bit by bit.
  • Break Free. Create your own bravery microdose to help you liberate.

Take note:

What do you need to be liberated from? Do you know someone who is struggling in a similar way? How might you join forces and work together to become freer?

Author Kristen LeeKristen Lee, EdD, LICSW, is an award-winning Behavioral Science and Leadership professor, clinician, researcher, activist, comedian, author of Worth the Risk: How to Microdose Bravery to Grow Resilience, Connect More, and Offer Yourself to the World, and host of Crackin’ Up. She has over two decades of clinical experience in mental health, and twelve years of teaching and leadership roles in higher education, focusing on underserved populations. She leads the Behavior Science program at Northeastern University. For more, visit kristenlee.com.

 

 

 

 

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